By taking just a quick look at the timeline these days, one would think that Hip Hop deals in only absolutes. Either an album is a classic or trash; with hardly any in-between. When an artist, big or small, drops any type of project, a wave of immediate reactions flood social media, with flames and trash cans dictating the quality of an artist’s personal vision.
However, looking back at 2022, most albums released fell somewhere in that lukewarm middle ground. This isn’t necessarily detrimental to newer artists on the come-up, or for those on a mission to start garnering a fanbase; mediocrity can sometimes be part of the process to unlocking greatness.
That said, 2022 saw a few legends, all stars and even promising young rookies drop some seriously disappointing projects. Not every single project needs to be the next Illmatic (even Jordan had some bad seasons) but in these instances below, it’s safe to say fans and critics alike felt let down. The projects ranged from some of the worst rappers of the year continuing to decline, while other projects came from talented artists who may just need a creative recharge.
Hopefully in the future they can dust themselves off, bust out the composite notebook and get back in the booth with intent and a passion to prove their detractors wrong. But for now, here are the most disappointing albums of 2022.
CHRIS BROWN – BREEZY
Chris Brown’s best musical years are almost certainly behind him. He’s given the world plenty of classic records throughout the last two decades, even as recently as 2019’s “No Guidance.” But 2022’s Breezy was a bloated, lazy and desperate plea for relevance with little replay value or memorable moments. It wouldn’t be the worst idea for Chris to use 2023 as a year to reflect and figure out which career move to take next, or maybe just hang it up altogether, after all, he’s one of the worst rappers and his hitmaking prowess is diminishing. Ultimately, he brings very little to the table. This is one of the worst albums this year. He’s got plenty of legal trouble to navigate. Read the full Breezy album review here.
RODDY RICCH – LIVE LIFE FAST & FEED THE STREETS 3
“The Box” might be certified diamond but that couldn’t help Roddy Ricch’s late 2021 album Live Life Fast and his 2022 mixtape Feed The Streets 3 from seriously underwhelming the masses. Roddy may have literally put himself in a box over the past couple of years by relying heavily on colossal singles to propel him to the top. Both these aforementioned projects didn’t really have any track that made waves or dominated playlists, and unfortunately, they slowed the west coast crooner’s momentum after a promising debut. We can only hope Roddy can get out of his head, as his talent is evident, but the consistency in execution leaves much to be desired. Read the full Live Life Fast album review here.
CORDAE – FROM A BIRD’S EYE VIEW
After dropping the YBN moniker and releasing 2019’s Grammy nominated album The Lost Boy, Cordae looked to be on a path of stardom. However, his early 2022 album From A Bird’s Eye View just didn’t grab the same attention as its predecessor. Cordae is still young enough to bounce back in a big way once he finds out what sound works for him. Will he switch things up or venture future into prestige raps territory? Only time will tell but this album will go down as a teachable moment. Read the full From A Bird’s Eye View album review here.
PI’ERRE BOURNE & JUICY J – SPACE AGE PIMPIN
It should have been a slam dunk. Legendary rapper creates collaborative project with promising young producer/rapper. What could go wrong? Apparently a lot. This summer’s collaborative effort between Juicy J and Pi’erre Bourne Space Age Pimpin truly came and went. The runtime was less than 40 minutes, and attention spans couldn’t even handle that. The production wasn’t too bad but it really felt like all 11 tracks could have been left on a hard drive somewhere and used as reference for future projects. Maybe if Juicy J spent more time on his verses than shilling NFTs the results would have been more favorable, but alas, that’s just wishcasting, like the metaverse actually working out. Read the full Space Age Pimpin album review here.
2 CHAINZ – DOPE DON’T SELL ITSELF
2 Chainz has been on a downward trajectory since 2017’s acclaimed Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. It isn’t that his bar-for-bar rapping has gotten any worse over the last five years, he’s simply competing in a young man’s game. Chainz has been dominant for just over a decade – most rappers these days can’t even last an album cycle – so there is no shame in his efforts. That said, Dope Doesn’t Sell Itself really failed to meet any expectations and sounded like some loosies thrown together to satisfy a record contract rather than proof Chainz can still hang. Read the full Dope Don’t Sell Itself album review here.
BOBBY SHMURDA – BODBOY & SHMURDAGOTCASH
There is perhaps no more lovable persona in rap than Bobby Shmurda. His return to freedom in early 2021 was celebrated by everyone in the industry, and for good reason. Bobby got locked up just as his star was rising to the top – and unfortunately that momentum is not easy to recapture. Bodboy EP and SHMURDAGOTCASH didn’t bring forward any of the original excitement Bobby had banked on back in 2014. This isn’t to say that it’s curtains for the GS9 frontman; 2023 could be a big bounce back year with the right single at the right time. But for now, Shmurda sounds stuck in the past. Read the full Bodboy album review here.
LIL BABY – IT’S ONLY ME
Lil Baby’s mediocre 2022 might only be a result of his flaming hot 2020 and 2021. Fans were anticipating a brand new wave of heat in the same way they got spoiled the previous two years. However, It’s Only Me failed to make much noise in the streets or the tweets, and quickly cooled any momentum Baby had garnered with My Turn. Don’t get it twisted, the album and its singles put up big streaming numbers but didn’t pass the grueling test of time. In 2023, it might be back to the drawing board for Baby to try and recapture the magic that made him HipHopDX’s rapper of the year in 2020. Read the full It’s Only Me album review here.
JACK HARLOW – COME HOME THE KIDS MISS YOU
Come Home The Kids Miss You may have been the most dunked on album of the year. After Jack Harlow got the proverbial “push” from critics and fans alike pegging him as the next big thing, followed by Harlow buying into his hagiography by hyping the album up as a true statement piece, a project that would show people the “real Jack.” But when hype doesn’t deliver, the results are venomous in a world where people regularly pray on others’ downfall. “First Class” and “Churchill Downs” performed well on the charts but the album as a whole had too many skips to live up to the hype, and Jack’s lack of detail, compelling songwriting, catchy hooks, and most damning, personality, doomed the album to nothing more than background music for teenagers. It’s a poor quality project that have many calling Harlow one of the worst rappers of the year. To be clear: it still sold well and has Jack on pace to become a star in music. But, for an artist who treated his work in every interview like a grand declaration that this would be the project that solidified him as one of the best in the game, the results felt more like a ruse. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, because he doesn’t have much to say. Read the full Come Home The Kids Miss You album review here.
KEN CARSON – X
Ken Carson’s 2021 Project X was one of the most exciting albums from a young rapper last year. The futuristic, genre-fusing tracks sounded like a little slice of the future and had fans buying up a lot of Ken Carson stock. But his 2022 follow up X was met with mixed reviews. What could be categorized as “envelope pushing” or “experimental” was simply poor songwriting and at times inaudible. “Freestyle 2” is a great microcosm for the messiness of the whole project; lots of energy with no real direction. The hollow project couldn’t even get the ragers and plugg enthusiasts excited, leading some to question if the man instrumental in inspiring Playboi Carti’s sound on Whole Lotta Red was a false prophet. Read the full X album review here.
LIL DURK – 7220
After losing considerable steam in the mid 2010s, Lil Durk found new life at the turn of the decade. He dropped some ear-worm worthy features and great projects to boot. However, this year’s 7220 missed the mark. With verses handled primarily by himself and without a slew of features, the 31 track album (yes, you read that right) started to sound redundant quickly. Perhaps it was too much of an ambitious undertaking to drop such a long solo project with the expectation of keeping the attention of his new reinvigorated fanbase. Hopefully an artist as decorated and experienced as Durk finds his footing in 2023. Read the full 7200 album review here.
Graphics and artwork By JR Martinez
Paragraphs By Scotty Glaysher